South Fayette battle Seton-La Salle

Published Nov 4, 2013 at 1:32 pm (Updated Nov 4, 2013 at 1:32 pm)

No matter what is said in the newspapers or on Twitter this week, only one factor motivates South Fayette and Seton-La Salle when they battle each other at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 8 at Peters Township stadium in the WPIAL Class AA football playoffs.

“We’re either moving on to play the winner of Beaver Falls against Yough,” explained SLS skipper Greg Perry, “or we are moving on to play basketball.”

Indeed, the winner advances to play another day, competing in the semifinals set for Nov. 15, while the loser ends its season. And, forget the fact the two teams have already met this season with the Lions rolling up a 45-3 victory on their way to an undefeated Century Conference championship.

“I’m sure the kids don’t need anything to motivate them. They motivate themselves,” said SF head coach Joe Rossi. “They don’t take anybody lightly. The kids treat every game and every opponent with respect. There will be pep in their step.”

In prepping for this expected showdown, SLS upended Washington, 35-27, while South Fayette blanked Greensburg Central Catholic, 49-0, in their playoff openers.

Against Wash High, Tyler Perone completed 19 of 34 passes for 354 yards and TD passes of 42 yards to Rick Mellick, 15 yards to Tom Rizza, 38 and 59 yards to Danzel McKinley-Lewis.

“We expected them to beat Wash High,” Rossi said of the Rebels. “They are well-coached and their quarterback is tremendous. He’s transitioned well since he’s played us.”

Five starts after throwing an interception on the first offensive series in the game, which opened the floodgates against South Fayette, Perone indeed has improved. He has completed 154 aerials for 23 scores and 2,180 yards this season.

“Tyler has really improved,” Perry agreed. “He’s playing his best right now. For us to be successful, he has to play well. He’s a key. We’ll go as far as Tyler takes us.”

Meanwhile, the Lions go as Brett Brumbaugh goes. The junior signal caller completed 12 of 17 aerials for 152 yards against the Centurions. He tossed TDs of 13 and 4 yards to Conner Beck as well as an 8-yard strike to Justin Watson, who is bound for Penn. Brumbaugh is 124 of 189 for 2,066 yards and 26 scores.

“Brett is our gunslinger and he has good weapons around him,” said Rossi, noting Grant Fetchet, who had 104 yards rushing against GCC and surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season. “Justin (Watson) gets a lot of publicity but Conner (Beck) has been tremendous for us.

“Brett was almost perfect last game,” Rossi continued. “We benefited from a short field. Defense has done real well for us giving us that short field.”

A short field also proved the difference for the Lions in their last meeting with the Rebels. Zach and J.J. Walker had interceptions in that contest and Brumbaugh threw for 307 yards and three touchdowns.

While Perry questions if SF is 42 points better than SLS, he expects his team to “show up” and be prepared to play its best.

“We have to play a perfect game of football,” he said. “We have to show up ready to play. Limit the turnovers and not give them the short field. We didn’t do that the last time we played them and they rolled.

“South Fayette is a solid team. They have a good defensive line. We have to play our best. We have to handle their front four and handle the 1-on-1 match-ups.”

Lineman Mike Kalnas and Jacob Blahut will be keys for the Rebels, says Perry.

“We can’t let them make the plays and move the chains,” he said. “Plus, we have to keep Brumbaugh and their offense off the field.”

Rossi agreed that the contest will come down to field position and turnovers.

“From my kids’ game all the way up to the NFL, the key to football games comes down to field position and guys creating turnovers. When we play in a game, we try to establish that,” he said.

Established is the rivalry. In addition to battling for the past four conference championships, the teams have met regularly in the second round of the playoffs. In 2011, SF edged SLS, 21-13, in a quarterfinal game also at Peters.

“We are so familiar with each other,” said Perry, who coached Brumbaugh’s older brother, Luke, who is now at Robert Morris. “There are no surprises when we play. It’s a good rivalry. You line up and play and it all comes down to whether or not you can execute and whether or not we can stop them.”

“It’s never tiring playing Seton,” Rossi said. “They are a good rival and we expect a good game from them. Whether in the backyard or on the street, it doesn’t matter where we play, it will be a good game between two competitive teams that are great rivals.”

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